By Graeme Wiggins
VANCOUVER – The sports bar can sometimes be a necessary evil. You want to watch a game with friends; you get there, the food is underwhelming. It’s dark; they have one of those terrible Budweiser goal lamps that goes off every time a goal is scored. And that’s before we even get to talking about the neon or the terrible beer selection. Bells and Whistles, the new beer-focused restaurant by Gooseneck Hospitality (Josh Pape, James Iranzad, and Nick Miller) of Wildebeest fame, is set to change that with a bright, open design; strong, eclectic beer selection, and classic looking menu.
“James, Josh and myself always wanted to create an environment that we always wanted to be in, whether it’s in the afternoon, or evening,” explains Miller. “Someplace we can take our families. A place for the community. What we serve as food is what we like to eat on a regular basis.” A strong beer list was also important, and a natural outgrowth of what they were doing previously. “We started a pretty progressive beer program at Wildebeest and eventually that came to outgrow that restaurant. So that’s part of why decided to go with a beer focused menu here.”
To that end they’ve developed relationships with a number of local breweries as well as importers to keep a nice selection, beautifully detailed on wooden slats on the walls. “We are working with Four Winds out of Delta. We’ve partnered up with them ever since we opened Wildebeest. This is their first ever restaurant collaboration (non-brewery). We committed to making a beer together, It’s a hoppy pale ale with galaxy and Denali hops. It’s exclusive to us. We’re also working with Twin Sails out of Port Moody. They also have a beer that’s exclusive to their tasting room as well as our restaurant. It’s often rotating dark beer series. We just received their Goodnight Sweet Prince which is an imperial coffee stout, just in time for the fall.”
The food, which Miller describes as “Classic American Roadside,” is burger oriented, though it boasts a solid salad and appetizer selection as well. The milky buns they use for their burgers help illustrate their personal take on the standards: “We have a custom bun which I’m most excited about. A milk bun is based off of Japanese milk bread which is a bit sweet. You add milk powder which adds lactose, so much like you have a milk stout it gives it a bit of sweetness. We obviously intend our buns to be a little squishy, but not too bready. It’s a little dense.” They also carry soft-serve ice cream (“It never comes in frozen and it contains real milk and eggs. A lot of people use the powdered substitute which is delicious but ours is a little richer. In the tradition of American frozen custard.”) which, when coupled with the 29-seat patio they hope to have ready for the spring, will make it a go-to spot for the summer.
Miller says “when it comes to the restaurant it’s really beer first, food second, sports third.” To that end, while TVs are not omnipresent they have one large TV in each section, a far cry from the regular sport bar smattering. He explains, “ A sports bar for me screams information overload, beer logos everywhere, jerseys everywhere, funny sayings everywhere, televisions everywhere. We love the idea of the communal viewing experience with one screen per room. The screen can go into four, or one. It can do picture in picture. But essentially, if you want to watch a screen you look that way and if you don’t you can look anywhere else. It’s a little more calming.” The décor also moves away from the kitschy sports bar classic to a more modern look with some local art, and even some hanging plants. It seems tailor-made for the hip, young community developing in the Fraserhood neighborhood.
Bells and Whistles is located at 3296 Fraser Street.beer, fraserhood, gooseneck hospitality, Restaurants, sports bar